Okay, let's cut straight to the chase. Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Rocks. I spent two days at Universal (with a park to park jump pass), and HP was my favourite aspect of both parks. I felt so excited as we walked and caught of glimpse of the train Hogwart's Express and train conductor and then heard the mystical music playing in the streets. I loved the snow tipped roof tops and weathered looking stores. I looked in the window of every shop. Most shops are for viewing only, and you can't go in. But some, like Ollivanders, Owl Post, Zonkos, Dervish and Banges, and Honeydukes are open for business. I had a list of mandatory items I needed to buy which included; wand (Luna Lovegood replica), butterbeer, and Ravenclaw scarf. I managed to get these the first day we were there, and then I also included a Hogwart's Express 9 3/4 t-shirt, Dumbledore's Army mug, house mittens, and a Ravenclaw patch. I really had to keep myself in check, because I also contemplated a HP robe, Ravenclaw wall hanging, and other merch.
The first thing V and I did at HP world was hit up the ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. We had a wait of about 20 minutes, which wasn't too bad because it gave me time to absorb everything inside the castle. I loved the talking paintings, the huge statue of Fawkes, and seeing Dumbledore talking. At one point in the line you come across images of Ron, Hermione and Harry, who are telling you about the ride. Hermione directs you to your seats (benches) and places a spell on you so you can watch a Quidditch match. As we stood in line, fake snow came tumbling down on people waiting! So cool. Before you get on the ride, we also passed the Fat Lady portrait, and the sorting hat. The ride itself is pretty visually pleasing. It's a combination of a simulator (looking at a huge screen that takes you through a crazy flying adventure), and then objects like the whomping willow that tries to bash you, dementors that blow on you, spider that spits on you (yes, you get wet), a dragon that breathes fire (you feel the heat), and a skeleton of a dragon. The simulation made me want to pick up my feet and I curled my toes, not wanting to hit things that weren't even there. I had a huge chuckle at the point when you get to the quidditch match, and Draco Malfoy barks at Harry, "Showing off for your muggle friends again 'eh Potter?!" I went on the ride 4 times when I was there-the longest wait was maybe 30 minutes, and two other times we just walked right on the ride! We were so lucky, because we went on the off season (3rd week in January) on a wednesday, and it rained! The rain was fabulous because it made everyone go home, and the lineups were down to nothing!
Other things I loved about HP was the fact that there were people dressed up like they belonged in the town itself, and they would refer to you as 'muggles.' I found all the staff so pleasant. After my first ride on the Forbidden Journey, V and I went and bought our first butterbeers at a street vendor and went picture taking of the store fronts. I loved the butterbeer, it basically tasted like rootbeer with a very non-vegan topping on it. Oh, the things I do for devotion to HP. The only other ride I went on was the Ride of the Hippogriff which was simple and fun.
After the downpour of rain, we headed to the Three Broomsticks for dinner. It was alright. It smelled bad, like stinky feet. I think because of the vinegar and fish people were consuming. I got a salad, fries and butterbeer. When I was nice and full, we hopped in a shorter line for Ollivanders. The line never seemed to die down for the little wand shop, but it was worth it. We waited maybe 20 minutes, and then we shuffled into a small, dark room and had piles of wands in boxes along the wall. Ollivander sat on the stairs, and when we were settled he walked down and picked out a young boy named Santio. He gave Santio a wand to try out, but it made his flowers wilt. The second wand only wiggled the ladder, but the third was a fit. A bright light came down, illuminating Santio illustrating the wand to boy match. They then ushered us into the next room where you could purchase a wand or other HP merch. Luckily, I asked about a Luna Lovegood wand, because I didn't see one on their web store. But they do have a replica of her second wand which I purchased.
So, how to end this post... I was sad to leave the park. I adored it, and was happy that I was able to do everything I had planned. I even saw the Triwizard Tournament performances on the last day and got my picture taken with them as well. Other highlights are the screeching mandrake and Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom. If you're a fan of Harry Potter, you need to put this on your to-see list. They are even expanding the park! I can't wait to see what expansions happen. Perhaps they will have a Knockturn Alley, or a flying car ride... I would love to see even more performances and people dressed up in costume.